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Issue 48
, 2014
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Coal Communities Fear 'Fly Ash' Poses Deadly Threat

Source: CBN-News, Date: , 2014

TENNESSEE AND PENNSYLVANIA -- The burning of coal at power plants produces a byproduct known as fly ash. Many times the waste isn't properly stored and that can pose serious health concerns.

On December 22, 2008, the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant west of Knoxville suffered a major fly ash spill. An earthen dike failed, releasing an estimated 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash into 300 acres surrounding the plant.

The spill resulted in the evacuation of a nearby residential area. It also damaged a natural gas line and disrupted power and transportation.In the aftermath, TVA ended up buying all 180 properties and 150 houses affected by the spill and recovery effort.

The land received a big-time makeover, but what about the effects of the fly ash on the health of people and the environment? According to the TVA, it's not a problem

"We look to independent studies, and they have determined in thousands and thousands of samples and in two studies that are public, that there is no harm to human health as a result of the elements that are in coal ash," Anda Ray, TVA's senior vice president of Engineering, Environmental, and Support Services, told CBN News.

"But I understand that people are worried," Ray added. "And perhaps there's other issues, and they need to check with their physician."

Residents Demand Action

 Tell that to worried residents living near fly ash impoundments in Pennsylvania.Sonny Markish lives in La Belle. The view from his yard is a massive dump site, complete with the rumble of large trucks hauling the ash. He showed CBN News a substance around his property that he says has been tested and proven to be fly ash.

Markish says he and his wife have battled cancer, and he has asthma."I certainly don't believe that it is helping me, especially like when I come out here, my eyes begin to water," Markish said. "I can taste foul things, and I see dust that is coming from the dump up there."

The primary concern for residents of La Belle, Pennsylvania, is what's called "fugitive dust." They say because the fly ash is not contained properly, the wind blows it into their communities, coating their properties and affecting their health. Markish's neighbors, Yma and Rudy Smith, told CBN News they are both on kidney dialysis.

"It ate the roof off of my home, so if it did that, what is it doing to the insides of my body?" Yma Smith questioned. "Breathing, I'm coughing; my eyes are burned. I can't go outside and sit."Yma's husband, Rudy, believes fly ash is at least partly to blame for the death of his friend, who was only 56 years old.

"I want this community to be cleaned up," Rudy Smith told CBN News. "I'm tired of seeing my friends in this community die. My friend I used to work at the coal mine with, Mike Kwasny, he died from cancer in the sinuses."

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